Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Overall, 2007 has been a good year for me and the family. There are too many things to list but 3 things that tops the list are:
1) Our best Hawaii vacations on Kauai (which reminds me that I never did post Part 2 of that vacation).
2) My love of food has been re-inspired, most of the credit going to Kirk, Ed and Cathy at mmm-yoso!!!, and a few other food blogs.
3) I started barefoot running. Thank goodness because I sure need it to offset all that food.

I don't really believe in New Year resolutions only because I don't think I should wait for a new year to better myself (trust me, I need to do this on a constant basis, hehe). I don't think a resolution that's a New Year's one would help more, anyway.

So as we close out 2007, I want to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year! May 2008 be an even better year for us all!

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Friday, December 28, 2007

2008 NHL Winter Classics

Yes, all you hockey fans, the 2008 NHL Winter Classics is just 4 days away. It is scheduled for Jan. 1 at 11 A.M. ET, LIVE FROM BUFFALO! The Buffalo Sabres will be hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first NHL regular-season outdoor game in the United States. Crews have been working hard since Sunday, getting the outdoor rink ready.

If we were in Buffalo, I *think* we would be there, if we were lucky enough to get tickets. I say "think" only because it's going to be really, really cold. Mid-day temps are only 36 degrees F. So, just imagine a West Coast (barefooted) gal sitting out dere with a full-length park'a, wearing a face mask, 2 layers of fleece, lips so cold, she can barely utter "Let's Go Buffalo!" Yeah, it does sound like fun and the Mister would talk me into going because it's something not to be missed. Ever see Mystery, Alaska with Russell Crowe? That's the picture I have in my head.

If they're lucky, it won't rain on New Year's Day. It rained yesterday, which was kind of a good thing to help build the ice. Don Renzulli is heading up the team, who is working hard to make this event a success. If you're an NFL fan, you might recognize Renzulli's name, the ex-Senior Director of Events Operation of NFL, who has been part of the Super Bowl planning team for the past 10 Super Bowls.

Well, the Mister and I will be in our Sabres gear, sitting on the couch with the kids, nice and toasty, watching the game on the big screen.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Christmas is just around the corner (3 more shopping days). Based on the hits the blog has been getting, many people are looking to make standing rib roasts for Christmas with Buckeye candy chasers. Outstanding! I love standing rib roast and highly recommend it.

Well, I'm off to finish off the last of the Christmas wrapping and then it's just relaxing for me. I'm running a bit late on getting my own rib roast started so it looks like I'm only going to be able to dry-age for 2 days. Oh well. I don't have to worry about cooking for another 3 days, hehe.

Where ever you are, I want to wish you and yours a wonderful and happy holidays! Eat well!

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Friday, December 21, 2007


Mar. 4, 1994 - Dec. 21, 2006

We miss you every day.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sometimes a Smile Goes a Long Way

An article in the Tribune today talked about some 27 college students hired by Lindberg Field Airport as check point assistants. They are kind of like the Walmart greeters, if you will. This assistance program was the brain child of Airport officials with the help of the TSA.

The assistants provide smiling faces and courteous assistance to wary travelers, which apparently helps calm some passengers. Guess it's suppose to counteract the stone cold faces of TSA agents, bitter with their jobs due to having to deal with the endless flow of travelers who many, to this day, still don't realize there's a limit on how much liquid they can carry on planes. Or better yet, those passengers who didn't realize they needed some form of picture ID. Where do these people live, under a rock?

One of the assistance said smiling a lot and using best manners help. Wow, what a concept. Let's be courteous to each other and smile. No, I'm not knocking the program because I am all for putting in place programs that help us remind us to be courteous. Courtesy has been out of style for the past 2 decades and it's about time a larger effort is made to bring it back. Hell, if bell bottoms, big Afros and ugly 60's/70's clothes can come back into style, by God, so can Courtesy! I say we bring back those tv programs I remember when I was a kid that taught us to be nice to each other, not to litter, etc. Remember those? Manners have been so instilled in me as a kid that I still do certain things without thinking about it.

So today, do something courteous that you normally wouldn't do out of habit. Even if it's just to wish someone a happy holidays.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Work Rant

What better way for me to spend this cold and wet day in San Diego than ranting about bureaucracy in the workplace? There's so many (what's new?) that I can't even hone in on one particular. Okay, maybe one. Knee jerk reactions. Of all the years I've been in my field, I constantly have to fight the knee jerk reactions of upper management to avoid stupid policies and procedures put in place because of some stupid moron who didn't know better.

A knee jerk reaction is "an immediate unthinking emotional reaction produced by an event or statement to which the reacting person is highly sensitive; - in persons with strong feelings on a topic, it may be very predictable." See if you recognize this scenario. Someone screwed up something for whatever reason, you choose. Someone's boss panics and runs around the office going "how did this happen? who is suppose to be managing this? what are we going to do to prevent this? someone call a meeting so we can micro-analyze this and beat it until the horse is dead and decaying! ignore those vultures because we have got to get a handle on this!"

Uh-huh. And for the next 3-4 months, a group of poor sacks get stuck in some "sub-committee" to put some procedure in place so that "Someone" or someone like him can't ever fuck-up again. Oh sorry, I should use business language, "so we can prevent this from occurring in the future." Of course those who know me should already know what's going through my mind at this point. But I'll drawn it out for shits and giggles for those who don't.

First, I would ask what's Someone's IQ. Actually, I probably would put it more like this, "Is Someone a stupid fuck who can't dig his way out of a pot hole?"

If the answer is yes, I would then have asked, "how likely is it for another person smarter than Someone to make the same mistake?" Well, uh, it's possible. Really? How possible? Same possibility that I will win the the lotto next week so I won't have to come in here anymore to deal with you morons, or more of the possibility of another moron coworker pissing me off in the next few days? Now if it's the latter, then I say that we may have a problem on our hands and it's quite possible the problem may not all be "Someone's" fault.

If it's the former, then I would say, "take your head out of your ass and if you really want to prevent this from happening again, fire Someone." Then you can be guaranteed that Someone will never do it again. How's that for soft management? Hey, I have feelings, very strong feelings as a matter of fact. Anger, frustration, irritation, annoyance, these are all feelings. Who said I don't have feelings? It would actually make my life so much better if I really didn't have any feelings.

Okay, okay. I'm done with my bitching. Only because I have to mentally prepare myself for my meeting in 10 minutes, which happens to be a meeting I had to call because another "Someone" has failed to provide the necessary processes needed and now I have to (once again!) step in and correct it. Friday 4 pm cannot come soon enough.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Best Cheesecake Recipe

Well, at least to me it is. I have been making this recipe for over a decade and have had many people ask for the recipe. I've made the tradition size in a springform pan and I've made cupcakes and mini cupcakes size, too. I first thought of the cupcake size back in 1993 in hopes to find an easy way to serve it as a snack. It worked, very well as a matter of fact.

This year, I had several people ask me about the recipe. The origin of the recipe is from a book I got long, long time ago, compliments from West Coast Federal Savings and Loans. I looked up the ISBN number since the book doesn't have a published date. Google gave the following: Publisher is Nitty Gritty Productions, 1978, "A 2-in-1 Cookbook" (with pies on one side and cakes on the other). The only things I've made out of this cookbook are the cheesecake and apple pie recipes. Both are delicious. So here it is with some modifications from me, "Liz's Cheese Cake" (on the cake side of the book, of course). Note, the recipe calls for a sour cream top but we don't like it that way and have always left it off.

1/4 lb (9 double) graham crackers (I use graham cracker crumbs from a box)
2 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbs melted butter
3 pkgs (8 oz ea.) cream cheese
1 C sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (use a very good one)

Preheat oven at 375 degrees F.

Roll graham crackers into fine crumbs. [If you're using crumbs from a box, prepare that according to the instructions on the box.] Press onto bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.

Beat cheese until creamy. Add sugar gradually and beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. I always scrape the bowl after each egg to ensure that there's no lumps of cheese stuck to the side of the bowl. This will prevent cheese lumps. Add vanilla. Pour on top of unbaked crust. (See note below about using a water bath at this point.) Bake at 375 degrees 20-25 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges. I like the cake to have a slight jiggle and it will firm up once chilled. Cool at room temperature on a rack (helps prevent the crumb crust from getting soggy). Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving. You can add your favorite topping prior to putting it in the fridge to chill.

The baking method above may produce cracks in the top of the cheesecake but doesn't affect the taste at all. If you want a perfect presentation, then I recommend using the water bath method (I typically do this, even with the mini ones).

Water Bath:
Set the form pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides. This will prevent water from seeping into the seams of the springform pan. Carefully set the pan in a larger roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake as instructed.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Have a wonderful Aloha Friday and weekend. Stay warm and eat well.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dry-Aged Standing Rib Roast Recipe (and a word about turducken, chidurkey, or a gobble-quack-cluck)

A co-worker of mine (a fellow foodie) asked me if I had a recipe for a beef tenderloin. I didn't but talked her into a standing rib roast instead. Her family loves prime rib so this was an easy sell. She said she needed a foolproof recipe. I have found mine to be pretty foolproof for a rare to medium rare rib roast that is juicy and tender on the inside and with a delectable crust on the outside. I often have cravings for this roast and really should try to make it more often than just around the holidays. I have tweaked this recipe over the past few years and the current one produces the perfect standing rib roast for me. The family loves it.

My recipe is actually a combination of Paula Deen and Alton Brown's standing rib roast recipes. Alton's recipe required a terra cotta planter and I really didn't want to deal with it. I've done Paula's recipe exactly and it turned out pretty good, but I prefer to cook the rib roast based on the internal meat temperature. I think that's a much better gauge as to the "doneness" of the meat. We like our meat to be medium rare, closer to rare than medium. If you prefer medium, the internal meat temperature should be about 130 degrees before you pull it out of the oven. I've noted this in the recipe below.

I have found Alton's method for dry-aging the rib roast to produce the most juiciest and tender roast. I like this method better than searing the rib roast.

  • 1 standing rib roast (3-4 bone-in) (3-bone should be able to feed 6 people)
  • Canola oil, to coat roast (I use Olive Oil sometimes)
  • Kosher salt, to cover entire roast
  • Freshly ground pepper, to cover entire roast (I like coarsely ground pepper on mine)
  • Garlic powder, to cover roast (optional)

Dry-aging Instructions:
Take the rib roast out of the package. Place the standing rib roast upright onto a pan fitted with a rack. If you don’t have a rack, place several layers of paper towels on the bottom. It’s for drainage. (I've used a very large plate before but just make sure you monitor the drainage.) Place paper towels loosely on top of the roast. I use a couple of layers of paper towels. This will help to draw moisture away from the meat. Place into a refrigerator and change the towels daily for 3 days.

Remove the roast from the refrigerator. Let the roast stand at room temperature for about 2 hours. This step is very important. Make sure you do this or the rib roast will not cook properly.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub with canola or olive oil, including the bones.

  2. Cover the roast with kosher salt, about half a teaspoon per bone.

  3. Rub with freshly ground pepper to coat the surface.

  4. Sprinkle garlic powder over the roast and rub in. (You can combine the 3 ingredients and rub into the roast all at once.)

  5. Place the roast in a pan large enough to hold it comfortably, bone-side down. Place a probe thermometer into the center of the roast and set for 118 degrees. (Be sure the thermometer is exactly in the center of the roast.) Turn the oven down to 300 degrees F and roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 118 degrees. Turn off the oven.

    If you like it rare, take the roast out of the oven at this point and cover with foil. The internal temperature will continue to rise a bit (~5-8 degrees). Skip Step 6. DO NOT remove the thermometer probe. Keeping it in will prevent all the internal juices from running out.

  6. Set the thermometer to 125 degrees F and let it stand in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees. DO NOT remove the roast or open the oven door before it reaches 125 degrees. If you like it a little towards the rare than the medium side, you can take it out at 120 degrees. Take the rib roast out and cover with foil. DO NOT remove the thermometer probe to keep internal juices from running out. You can disconnect the probe from the reader. The temperature will continue to rise a bit after you’ve taken it out (~5-8 degrees).

  7. Preheat oven 500 degrees. Place the roast uncovered into the oven for about 10 minutes to create a nice crust, or until you achieve your desired crust. Remove and transfer roast to a cutting board. Keep covered with foil until ready to serve.

Some chefs like to let the roast sit for about 15 minutes before carving. This is so that the juice will settle within the roast. I like to cut the roast away from the bones and then slice the roast about 1” thick. Use an electric carving knife if you have one, makes removing the the bones very easy. If you don't have an electric carving knife, make sure you use a long, very sharp knife to cut the roast to your desired thickness. Serve with horseradish sauce or au jus.

We like to eat the meat on the bones. Okay, 'gnaw" on the bones. No stickin' knives for this part. Just grab an end with each hand and start gnawing. I usually like to save these for left overs because the meat around the bones heat up nicely, even though not rare, and stays very tender. BTW, DO NOT feed the bones to your dogs. Cooked bones splinter easily and cause all sorts of issues for you dog. That is, unless you enjoy spending your Christmas in the animal ER and $3000 of your money treating a torn GI tract. Or worst yet, losing your best friend. JUST DON'T DO IT!

Just a personal word about the "doneness" of standing rib roast. I personally think it's a waste to cook a standing rib roast anything more than medium rare. The method above will actually produce medium done meat at the end of the roast for those who like their meat with little to no pink. But anything more than medium tends to dry out the meat and it becomes tough. Now why would you want to do that with such an expensive and beautiful piece of meat? Isn't it much better when the meat almost melts in your mouth?

For reference, here is a general cooking temperature gauge for beef roast. I didn't include temps past medium because, well, if you read the previous paragraph, you know why.

  • Rare - 120° to 125°F - center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion
  • Medium Rare - 130° to 135°F - center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion
  • Medium - 140° to 145°F - center is light pink, outer portion is brown

On a side note but still in spirit of food, during lunch today, the Mister told me that he wants to try a chidurkey. A chiwa-what?? He said, "A chi-dur-key." I gave him my famous (and often annoying) wtf look. He went on to explain that it is a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey. Did you follow that? I'm thinking to myself, I must give up my foodie membership card because that sounds insanely like food porn and just...well, insane. He said it's all the craze and Bischer's sells them. Huh. (Wow, the Mister is really starting to talk like a mister of a foodie. I'm such a proud Missus.)

So of course, I had to look this up. I'm not one to back down on a food challenge. What the Mister wants, the Mister gets. Apparently, a chidurkey is also known as a turducken. Now, a turduken sounds vaguely familiar. I found a wonderful and entertaining 2-part article that told me everything I wanted to know about turducken. It even has a reference to Sonya Thomas. Don't know who she is? Haha, try to catch one of those food eating competitions on Food Network some time. I guarantee you Sonya will be on there. And if she isn't, she's either suffering from a severe stomach virus or gave up gluttony for Lent.

Back to turducken. Apparently the true Cajun version also includes 3 types of stuffing: 1 within the chicken, 1 between the chicken and the duck, and 1 between the duck and the turkey. Gracious! As if I'm not already in a food coma right now from lunch. Well, that's about as much as I can write about this right now. Read the article, if not only for the humor. Hmm, I do have 2 weeks off coming up. Maybe a turducken is in my near future...

So be off with you. Eat well. And good luck, K, on your first attempt at a standing rib roast.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Quick Weekend Project

A little while back, I wrote about some new gadgets I bought. I briefly mentioned that the Janome 350E was still on my wish list. Not no more! The Mister must have thought I was really good this year because he said, "Buy it." Don't need to tell me twice!

I had gotten interested in embroidery earlier in the year because I thought personalizing some of the baby quilts I made would make them that much nicer. Although I already have a Bernina 430, and it was capable of being upgraded with an embroidery attachment, I really didn't want to purchase the embroidery unit. The $1000 price tag and not being able to sew and embroider at the same time were 2 reasons. The other, bigger reason was that I've heard a lot of issues folks are having issues with Bernina and the software support. For a whopping $1000, it comes with a "lite" version of its embroidery software that doesn't really do much. It also requires connection to a laptop or computer in order to stitch the embroidery. That's not a problem for me but could be for some. For that kind of money, I would expect better software support from them (compatibility with OS version is a problem). So I had to look elsewhere to feed this new hobby. hehe. (The Mister always cringes when I take on new hobbies. They aren't cheap ones, that's for sure.)

So after much research, I had decided to test the Janome 350E. It is an embroidery only machine that comes standard with a large 5.5" x 7.8" hoop. That's much bigger than some of the cheaper embroidery machines out there. I also liked it because I really didn't want a sewing/embroidery machine. I already have 3 other sewing machines (yes, 3), so really didn't need another one. Also, most of the other sew/emb machines only have a 4" x 4" hoop. I'm already starting to think upgrade with that small size of a hoop. So....

The only drawback of the Janome 350E was the price. It was a bit more than the emb unit for my Bernina. But overall, I like the stand alone emb machine and it will embroider right out of the box. I contacted several Janome dealers in San Diego and was able to find one that sold it for $80 less than the next cheapest. Only drawback is that the free lessons were very basic. Probably not that big of a deal for me since I never took advantage of the 6 free lessons when I bought the Bernina (laziness had some part in it).

OK, so enough of the babbling and let's get on with my weekend project. In anticipation of getting the 35oE, I purchased some nice double sided fleece fabrics so I can make personalized throws for all the 4-legged family members.

Here is one using one of the default lettering that came with the machine. I downloaded the bone from a site that offers free embroidery files (there's quite a few of them out there). If you look towards the bottom corners of the picture, you can see how I finished the sides. I did a satin finish, although a blanket stitch would have been just fine since it's fleece (the ends don't fray). I think the satin finished edge looks much nicer. I did the edges with my coverstitch machine and took no time at all.

Here's a picture of another one I did using the same font witha different colored thread for the name. The picture came out a bit on the purple side. The color of the fleece is more of a wine color. Overall, I did 4 of these large throws, each approximately 60" x 72". I kept them pretty large since they make a nice cushion when folded.

The other project that I'm finishing up today is the baby quilt for the daughter of my friend, Dr. G (who was also an ex-boss of mine). I've finally finished up the embroidery of her name, quilted it, and now just finishing up the binding. It's taken me way too long to finish this but at least she'll have it by Christmas. I'll post a picture of it in another post.

Hope everyone stayed dried this weekend. Have a terrific week! Oh yeah, 16 more days until Christmas.
Postscript: I forgot to mention that our trip up to Anaheim and LA was good, dispite the embarrassing debacle of the games the Sabres put on. A bit disappointing since these were my first live Sabres games. Gaustad said he felt really bad for those fans that came a long ways to watch them. But at least they kicked the snot out of the San Jose Sharks last night. If I have time later, I'll post a quicky on the food portion of our trip. We stopped by Little Tokyo for lunch as well as some snacks. I was so delighted to see a Mikawaya store in Japanese Village Plaza. The Mister and stopped in for dessert and I finally was able to get some mochi ice cream. Mmmmmmmm. The Mister thoroughly enjoyed his pistachio Italian ice cream, too. Dang, if I can just find the mango and the strawberry in San Diego, I'd be a happy, barefooted gal!

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Friday, December 7, 2007

"A Soldier's Christmas"

Written by: Michael Marks

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleepi
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "It's really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"

"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,
"then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.
"My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,

to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Michael Marks wrote "A Soldier's Christmas" on December 7th, 2000. The works of Mr. Marks have been featured in the Washington Times, hanging in the Titan Missile Museum, and featured on the International War Veteran's Poetry Archive at

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Weekend Update (12/3/07)

Holy Holidays! Can you believe it's December already? To bring in the 2007 holiday season, I baked like a mad foodie this weekend. This year, I made German Almond Cookies (very much like Mexican Wedding Cookies), Buckeye Candies, and mini Cheesecakes cups. As usual, I forgot to take pictures of the food but I will post the recipes for the almond cookies and the cheesecake on another post. This year, I did something a little different. Usually, I just bring in all the goodies for folks to take. This year, I decided to up the notch a bit on the presentation and put together a little holiday bag for each person. I kind of went Martha Stewart a bit, making my own little gift cards and treat bags.

Other than that, just watched hockey (Sabres won, yippee!), watched some movies, and played some Halo 3. A nice mellow weekend. And best of all? This is a 2-day work week for me because it's hockey week! Have a terrific week! Now go and eat well.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Flood Warnings Issued for San Diego

The rain is a good thing because we need it. But rain is a double edge sword after all the SoCal wildfires. The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch for all but the desert portions of San Diego County. It's been raining pretty steadily all morning throughout SoCal. According to, Palomar Observatory recorded 1.14 inches of rain by 9 a.m., the Oceanside airport had 0.82 of an inch, and Lindbergh Field had 0.36 of an inch.

Flooding has already been reported on portions of Interstate 805, Interstate 5 and Interstate 15. DRIVE CAREFULLY AND AT A SAFE SPEED! And for Pete's sake (and everyone else's) TURN ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS when it's raining and visibility is decreased! I can't tell you how many dark cars wizzed by me on my way to work today that didn't have their lights on. These morons were driving at least 10 miles over the posted speed limit, in heavy down pours at times, in dark cars. It's no wonder there's been more than 60 crashes reported to the California Highway Patrol, including vehicles running off the roads and spin-outs, since

San Diego County officials said they planned to place Reverse 911 calls to residents in areas at risk of flooding and mudslides. If you are in an area that is susceptible to flooding or have had recent fire damage, you might not want to wait for the Reverse 911 call. According to Channel 8 News, residents can get help to prevent mudslides by going to one of five locations in the county.

1. Valley Center County Road Station, 28565 Cole Grade Road, Valley Center
2. Ramona Road County Station, 116 5th Street, Ramona
3. Dulzura Fire Department, 17304 Highway 94, Dulzura
4. Fallbrook Ingold Baseball Fields, 2551 Oliver Hill Rd, Fallbrook
5. Rancho Bernardo Local Assistance Center, 18448 W. Bernardo Drive, Rancho Bernardo

You can also find more information from San Diego County's Fire Recovery webpage:

Stay safe and have a wonderful weekend! Remember it's Aloha Friday!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blue Fridays

Todd Heisler's (The Rocky Mountain News) series of pictures titled "Jim Comes Home" has won second place in the Pictures of the Year International (POYi). A few of his pictures are being used as part of a word-by-mouth campaign for Blue Fridays. Here are a few of the pictures and the story behind them. Here is the direct link to Heisler's 8-picture series titled "Jim Comes Home."

When 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body arrived at the Reno Airport, Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac. During the arrival of another Marine's casket last year at Denver International Airport, Major Steve Beck described the scene as one of the most powerful in the process: 'See the people in the windows? They'll sit right there in the plane, watching those Marines. You gotta wonder what's going through their minds, knowing that they're on the plane that brought him home,' he said. 'They're going to remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They're going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should.'

The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. 'I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,' she said. 'I think that's what he would have wanted.' Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of JIM.


Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing blue every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the 'silent majority.' We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing. Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends,simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -- and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar, will wear something blue.

By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of blue much like a home coming football game in the bleachers. If everyone of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family, it will not be long before the USA is covered in BLUE and it will let our troops know the once 'silent' majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on.

The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is ....'We need your support and your prayers.' Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something blue every Friday.


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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Great Hockey Weekend!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I've been under the weather but I think I'm finally on the mend. Hate cold season. But it's been an awesome hockey weekend! Sabres have won their last 4 games, and Thibault had his first shutout as a Sabres last night. Awesome!

It was a good win against Ottawa because they had just lost to them in their last game together. What's even better is that the Sabres swept Montreal. If you watched the game, you knew the (stupid) Canadiens were getting tired of being spanked by the Sabres. They were more focused on hitting Sabres players than actually playing the game. All the better that they were shutout, hehe.

It's nice to see Ryan Miller finally getting into his game, the more focused he is, the more so are the other players. It's been really exciting to see the newer players scoring. But some of the veterans have been a bit, quite a bit, disappointing. Afinogenov is the biggest so far (at a whopping -8 pts). I'm not going to get into how many game-losing pucks he's given way. Ruff has said he isn't ready to bench him yet, and Afinogenov has actually shown some improvement in the last 2 games. But I still cringe when watching him pass the puck in crucial moments. Come on Max, buckle down and tighten up.

Now what is up with Kotalik (-3 pts)? He was on my list to trade at the end of last year. Is he trying to prove me right?? Hey, Ales, most people try to prove me wrong, like Spacek.

The other disappointment has been Tallinder (-1 pts). It's like as if he wasn't even on the ice when his line is up. Maybe he's just still "mentally" recovering from his injury or perhaps he really doesn't feel 100%, which is causing his under-performance. Snap out of it.

But even with some very sub-par performances by these guys, others have really stepped up. MacArthur, who was brought up due to Connolly's injury, has been awesome. Vanek is starting to look like he did last year, Stafford and Gaustad, Campbell, Roy, Ryan, even Pratt, are looking mighty on the ice.

The real disappointment of the season, as it was last year, of course, are the refs. In every game, not just the ones Sabres play in, there always some bonehead ref not making penalty calls. I'm not talking about the gray zone (put it in the zone, eh!) types. I'm talking about blatant, in your face, only-a-blind-man-could-have-missed-that kind of penalty. But Rob Ray said it best, they're arrogant and think that the fans are out there to see them, not the team. HAHA!

Next game is tomorrow against the Capitals, and then the Blues on Wednesday. And the week after next, they'll be heading west to sunny SoCal to play the Ducks and Kings! Can't wait!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Portuguese Sausage Fried Rice Taste Test

A couple of weeks back, I was reading The Great Portuguese Sausage Shootout by Pomai of The Tasty Island. Ever since our trip to Kauai, the Mister and I have been on a fried rice with Portuguese sausage kick. So of course after reading the Shootout, I was inspired to try my own little taste test.

The only place I know to get Hawaiian Portuguese sausage in San Diego is Orient Bowl Market on Convoy, in the same corner as Jasmine's. The street address is 4625 Convoy St., San Diego, CA 92111. The last time I was there, I notice they were carrying several brands: Rego's Purity Hot and Mild, Gouvea's (Linguica), Frank's Foods Hot and Mild, Redondo's Hot and Mild. There might have been more since there were some empty space on the shelves. (Postscript: Marukai San Diego also carries a variety of Portuguese sausages.)

Since I know I'm not a big fan of Redondo's, I decided to leave that brand out of my taste test. I was hoping to get several brands' hot variety since that's what we like in our fried rice. But there were only 2 other brands available in Hot other than Redondo's, Purity and Frank's. Since a comparison of just 2 brands seemed a bit lopsided, I decided to get 2 other brands I've never tried in the mild: Frank's and Gouvea's.

I started with my basic fried rice: white rice, carrots, peas, eggs. I like this basic recipe as a side dish. But as a stand alone meal, I like to have meat(s) in it. For loco style, I like to add lop cheong (Chinese sausage) and Portuguese sausage, usually Rego's Purity Hot. Chinese bbq pork is also good but I don't usually have that lying around and often too lazy to drive down to Convoy to get it.

This is the fried rice I made for the taste test. Enough for leftovers! =)

I cut 6 slices on the bias of each sausage. Cooked them up separately in a clean pan (to avoid cross contamination of flavor, of course). Then served them up!

On the plate starting from the left:

A - Frank's Hot
B - Purity Hot
C - Frank's Mild
D - Gouvea's

The Mister was a true blind test since he did not know which was which. We made our way from left to right and noted our findings. Now remember, we were judging taste as part of a fried rice dish. So it was all about how it complimented the fried rice. And the ruling was...

Ranked from Best to Least:

#1 Purity Hot - spiciest, full flavor, greasiest, firm texture, nice caramelizing
#2 Gouvea's - good grease, nice flavor, good marbling
#3 Frank's Hot - not very hot or spicy, decent flavor, least greasiest, firm texture
#4 Frank's Mild - smokiest, tasted like Little Smokies, least spiciest, very distinct paprika, good marbling

It wasn't surprising that Purity Hot ranked #1. Maybe you can say we were a bit biased since we're so used to the taste. But even Frank's Mild at #4 was still a very good sausage and I would take any of the runner-ups if Purity Hot was not available. The reason why I really like Purity Hot for fried rice is because of its grease. It was the greasiest out of all 4 and you would think normally, that wouldn't be good. But, I like the grease that's left in the pan and with adding just a wee bit more canola oil, I can fry up the rice with it. Not only does it cut down on the total amount of oil I use in the dish, the sausage grease really adds a nice spicy flavor to the overall fried rice. Love it!

A few other things I noticed about some of the other sausages, Frank's Mild reminded me of Lil' Smokies, although not as greasy. It also was the slowest to caramelize, most likely due to the less grease it produced, which was interesting because it had really good marbling. Gouvea's had the softest texture, most likely because it's linguica style. Frank's Hot might be really good grilled and served on a roll with sauteed onions and mustard (or ketchup in my case).

So that was my little taste test. When I first told the Mister that I wanted to do the taste test, he kind of did his eye roll. He's found the food blogging part of my hobby interesting and sometimes a little embarrassing, especially when I stop him from digging into his meal to take a picture of it, in a crowded restaurant. But as with everything else I do, he's getting used to it and has found some personal benefits from it, hehe. He actually enjoyed this little taste test. As a matter of fact, he's been my guinea pig for a new blueberry crumb pie recipe, and soon-to-be for my most recent obsession with finding and making the perfect lobster tail pastry with cream center.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. This is a short week at work for me, woop woop!!! Can't wait for Thanksgiving because this year, I get a break from cooking the turkey. The MIL is taking care of that!! All I have to worry about is the candied yams!

Have a terrific (short) week. Now go and eat well!!!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day

Actually, yesterday was Veterans Day. Today is the official holiday in observance of Veterans Day. Have you hugged and thanked your veteran yet?

There's a misconception that Veterans Day is the day in which we honor American military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained from combat. Actually, that day is Memorial Day. Veterans Day honors all American veterans, both living and dead, and especially to thank the living veterans for all the sacrafices they made to keep our country free.

History of Veterans Day (reference:

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of thosewho died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

Have a great week, everyone. Eat well.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Chopstix - Japanese Noodles, etc.

Chopstix is one of my comfort food places and I used to frequent here a lot, especially when I used to work for a Japanese company. The food seems to go in-out of consistency every now and then, mainly because of the various cooks they've had. But overall, it's still very dependable even over the years. The menu hasn't changed too much, either, and it still offers a very good variety or noodle and rice dishes.

Chopstix is one of those few places where I actually have several menu items that I rotate. In cooler weathers, I lean towards the ramen dishes and tend to order curry rice dishes or yakisoba in the warmer months. My usuals are won-ton men, mabo ramen (can be a bit overly sweet and I need to be in the mood for it), tempura, soba noodles, katsu curry over rice, yakisoba, and always a side of crunchy roll. For noodle dishes, I add lots of chili sauce because I like the kick.

You can read Kirk's review here of the chasyu-men, mix tempura, and chicken katsu curry rice. The katsu curry rice is just like the chicken version but with pork. I've always ordered the pork katsu so I can't compare the two.

The Mister and I had lunch here last week. I won't include the Mister's chasyu-men because Kirk's review pretty much sums up my opinion of it. The Mister, however, enjoys it most of the time.

We started off with an order of Crunchy Roll. It was pretty good today. Always enjoy the bits of tempura batter on it.

Since it was a cooler day in San Diego with a threat of rain in the air, I was in the mood for soup noodles. I usually order the won-ton men when I'm in the mood for comfort food. The wontons were as usual, precooked and then added to the broth. I think they are shrimp-pork wontons. The broth on that day was very good. Not overly oily. As far as the other items, it's the same as all the ramen dishes: egg noodles, half a hard-boiled egg, bean sprouts, a slice of kamaboku, and green onions.

I don't remember exactly when they added the Specials placard (sorry, the picture is a little blurry) and never had taken advantage of it since I only come for lunch. But it's not a bad price if you want some beer or sake and a little appetizer to go along with it.

I've read a couple of reviews that criticized Chopstix but for me, I think they serve a very decent bowl of Japanese noodles and katsu curry over rice. I've tried other Japanese noodle houses and those broths didn't quite measure up with Chopstix.

They are open for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week. Doors open for lunch at 11:00 am. Note that sometimes parking during the week can be a real challenge during lunchtime.

4633 Convoy St.
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 569-9171

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Friday, November 9, 2007

New Food Blog Links

Aloha Friday! Every year around this time, my brain switches into a more heighten state in regards to food. I know, you're asking, "But CAB, how is that possible? Wouldn't your head, like, explode or something?" Apparently not but I do get even more food obsessed. My inner chef and baker are both fighting to come out around the holidays. I spend more time searching food related sites and I download more recipes during this time than the rest of the year.

And with that, I have added a few new food blog links to my list on the left. I've also separated out the food blogs from all the other sites. So what's my criteria for adding a link? If it it's a food blog and there's food that I enjoy, I'll read it for a while and if I go back often, I add the link. If the food blog makes my stomach growl, it's a shoo in. If it's funny, and I visit often, then it gets added.

The one I added today is KauKau Time! Blame Reggie for posting his aunt's Thit Heo Nuong - Vietnamese Pork Chops. Dang, I'm really hungry now. The other one I added today is The Tasty Island. This is a recent find as a by-product of my hunt for a good Saimen recipe. I love all sorts of noodle dishes, soup, stir-fried, pasta, deep fried, on and on... So it's not a surprise that I had to add this to my list.

I really have to get on the ball about posting pictures of my meals lately. Just last week, I roasted up a beautiful standing rib roast that was almost perfect. It wasn't perfect because I miscalculated the prep time and wasn't able to do the slow cooking technique that I usually use. But it was still delicious and tender, which made for great leftovers. I'm planning on doing another rib roast for New Year's so I will make a mental note to take pictures for that one.

Okay, enough talk about food without pictures. I'm just counting down the time for lunch. Have a terrific weekend! Now go and eat well.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Latest Spending Spree

I noticed this year that the stores' Christmas decorations came out a week after Labor Day. One of these years, it's going to start right after 4th of July. Just wait and see. So with the holiday spirit in mind and an itch to do some shopping (the itch appears between hunger pangs, hehe), here are some things I recently purchased. A couple of these things have not yet arrived since I ordered them online. Actually, I do about 80% of my shopping online.

Bosch Universal Plus Mixer - My new super-duper mixer!

For several years now, I have been pining for a top of the line KitchenAid mixer. The Mister had kind of hinted that he wanted to get me one for Christmas this year so I started my research. (I'm a bit OC about researching products before buying.) Well, I was so surprised when I read all the latest reviews on just how bad KitchenAid mixers have gotten. Not your grandmother's KitchenAid is right! All you have to do is read some of the 1 and 2 reviews on Amazon on any given model to know that the bad reviews weren't just flukes. So why do some of the biggest names on Food Network use KitchenAid mixers? Probably because they get them for free.

So now what? I had a few names to research and after reading reviews and articles, I landed on the Bosch Universal Mixer. It was the comparison video from that sealed the deal for me. Even KitchenAid's top of the line Professional 600 Series (which was what I was eyeballing) at 575 watts couldn't beat the 700 watts of the Bosch Universal Mixer and its mixing mechanism. Also, Bosch had just released its latest mixer, the Universal Plus, which means the older model was coming down in price! But the newer Plus model with a whopping 800 watts and some really good new features, spending an extra $60 was worth it for me. With this mixer, there will be no cookie dough or batter that I can't tackle!

BTW, if you're in the market for a new mixer or know someone who is, take a look at Costco's latest sales. They have the Bosch Compact mixer for $60 less than any online store I found out there. That's including tax and shipping. It's a great all-around package with a 450 watt motor. Email me if you have questions on it.

Technivorm Thermo KB741 Coffee Maker - A coffee aficionado's dream!

If you drink Folgers or Taster's Choice, this won't mean a thing to you. I would even dare to say if you buy Starbucks coffee, this won't mean a thing to you, either. Why? Because Starbucks coffee taste like crap no matter how good of a coffee maker you have. There are so many reasons why Starbucks coffee sucks. These are some of the more important ones: beans' quality is highly suspected, burn the crap out of the beans to hide the quality (or lack thereof), grinds are old, use tap water for brewing, and who knows when was the last time they cleaned out the maker?? And people pay money for this. (I do have to admit that I enjoy their mocha frappuccinos.) For those who order those fancy schmancy type coffees (double double carmelato low fat high foam extra whipped), it doesn't matter what the coffee taste like cuz you can't taste it!

But if you're like me, can't stand Starbucks coffee, buy only the best beans (Kona Peaberry in our case) that you grind yourself (and hopefully with a burr grinder), you'll understand and appreciate this purchase.

The reason why we finally broke down and shelled out the money for a Technivorm is because our low-end, dual heating element coffee maker broke on Monday. Aficionados will understand the importance of the heating elements and the need for the perfect water temperature. Not thrilled with the prospect of shelling out $90 for a crappy coffee maker with a thermos that makes so-so coffee, will most likely crap out in a few years, it wasn't too hard for me to convince the Mister to just let me buy this baby. Boyd Coffee Company is an official Technivorm distributor so you can check out all the specs there. I won't bore you with all that.

Why did I get the thermos version? Because I didn't want to deal with a hot plate. There's 1 primary reason why you don't want your pot of coffee sitting on the hot plate: the hot plate will burn the coffee. Now with a model that has a thermos and no hot plate, I won't have to worry about it and my coffee stays hot!

Scene It?® Lights, Camera, Action for Xbox 360 - Do you know, I mean really know your movies?

We enjoy playing the original dvd board game but the new version for Xbox 360 is way cooler! This was just released this week and I picked it up my copy during lunch today. The reason why it's cooler than the regular version is because it comes with 4 wireless remotes. The Mister and I broke it in when I got home and the play is different from the original. Rather than each person going around a board taking turns, this version is more like the NTN Buzztime games you see at bars and restaurants. The quicker you answer, the more points you score. In some cases, you lose points for guessing the wrong answer. If you consider yourself a movie buff or just like watching movies, then check this game out, even if you don't have an Xbox 360. For the board game, there are various themes available too. I think there's even a sports version.

I still have the Janome 350E embroidery machine on my wish list, along with a sewing table but those will have to wait for another Christmas. Hmm, I'll have to start planning my cookie baking list, and how about some Parmesan herb rolls to go with that brined turkey? Yummmm! Go and eat well. I'm off to dinner.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Safe Thoughts and Godspeed for Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group

More than 5,500 sailors and Marines deployed today from San Diego for a 6-9 month tour as part of the Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group. As a Navy wife, it's always hard for me to read these stories or watch videos of the families saying their goodbyes. And with the holidays just around the corner, it's that much harder.

I don't like doing political rants because that's not my style. I'll leave the politics to the Mister. Instead, I would like to focus on the support of the troops and their families. It doesn't matter what your believes are on war or the military. We are the biggest and most powerful nation in the world and there are lots of reasons why we are. And by being so, needing a strong military is just as important as cities needing the police officers and firefighters. Supporting the troops and their families does not mean you're a warmonger. They are not the ones calling for war, they are the ones who are willing to protect what this great country stands for, our way of life, our freedom. And I thank God for them. But let's not focus on the politics in this post, okay? Oh, and to set the record straight, these have been my views before I became a Navy wife.

We hear some about supporting the troops but I don't think we hear enough about the families and the sacrifices they make. If you don't have anyone in your family that is (was) in the military or know someone close that is (was), then you don't know the extent of the sacrifices military families make. I have been very lucky that I have not had to make much sacrifices as many of these families. So at the very least, I'd like to help increase awareness for those who do.

Military families are different. It's not like having a dad that travels all the time for business. Dad doesn't consciously put his body in harm's way for our Country every time he goes on a business trip. And after a few days or so, he returns home. It's not like having both parents work all day and only getting to see them for dinner. Our troops are deployed for 6-8 months at a time. And if called for, their deployment can be extended. That means families don't see each other for months on end, sometimes even up to year at a time. Active service men and women and their families sacrifice much.

So here is a list of things that we can do to help support the troops and their families that goes beyond buying a yellow ribbon magnet or sticker that you slap on your car. You can click on the names of the organizations to get to their webpages.

Support the Troops

Operation USO Care Package: With the holidays just around the corner, this program will provide some much needed holiday spirit to our troops overseas. Please note that sponsors will need to sponsor a specific member due to the heightened security measures. A nonprofit organization group started by the Horns family which all started when they were sending care packages to their son, Sergeant Brian Horn, when he was in Iraq. Again, please ready the sections on How, What and Where to Send.

DOD Community Relations ( Check here to learn about our military and our military families who contribute to our communities.The site also features stories of how our communities, non-profit organizations, individuals and corporations support our military, and provides information about those organizations that provide such critical support.

Support the Families

Armed Forces YMCA: ASYMCA works with the DoD to provide support for military service members and their families with specific focus on the junior-enlisted men and women and their families. Just think, many of our service members are no more than 18 years of age. Donations help fund programs such as childcare, hospital assistance, spouse support services, food services, computer training classes, health and wellness services, and holiday meals, among many others.

Military Family Support: Numerous links to sites providing support to military families. I'm sure you can find one (or more) to support here.

Since there are many young families that struggle to make ends meet, helping with the upcoming Christmas holiday for the kids may be a good one. If you're interested, Toys for the Troops Kids is one organization that focuses on the kids.

NetPets Military Pets Foster Project: Helping to connect service members and temporary foster care homes for their pets. Pets are part of the family too, let's not forget them.

If you've read through this entire post, thank you. If you've clicked on at least one link, that's a start. If you're thinking about being a sponsor or donating to one of these organizations, I send cyber hugs to you and encourage you to take the next step. If you've actually become a sponsor or took action to support our troops and families, I send you aloha kisses and I'm sure your name is permanently on Santa Claus' nice list. And know that your karma just increased by a couple of positive points.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

October 2007 Hawaii Trip Part 1 - Food Review

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Since there's quite a bit to blog about from the most recent trip to Hawaii, I thought I'd do it in 2 parts. For the first part, I'm going to focus on the food.

Gyotaku in Pearl City, Oahu

We didn't make it out to the city (Waikiki) to Chiba-ken because we were just too tired on our last night in Oahu. We were staying on Ford Island so decided to get sushi close by. Gyotaku is a very popular place with the locals and with some of the great reviews we've read, we decided to try it. You can check out Gyotaku's menu here. Gyotaku was the only place we ate at on Oahu that I took pictures.

This is a picture of food we ordered. Starting from top center going clockwiser: mix sashimi plate, miso soup, mixed nigiri plate, chawanmushi, caterpillar roll.

Overall, the sashimi was just okay, the maguro (tuna) was best on that plate. The Mister said the salmon was pretty good. I ended up eating most of the fish off the nigiri because we were getting really full. The tako (octopus) and ebi (shrimp) nigiri were both chewy and not that good. The spicy tuna roll was okay.

The caterpillar roll was unexciting. The avocado was underriped with no flavor, which we ended picking off anyway. The miso soup was not too bad, tofu was tender and large pieces of seaweed.

I think the most interesting part of the meal was the chawanmushi. Chawanmushi is a steamed egg custard dish and can be made several different ways. It's similar to a type of steamed egg dish that my mom used to make. This chawanmushi was pretty good. The custard had a good brothy flavor, and although you can't tell by the picture, there were shitake mushrooms, shrimp (chewy), and a few other items in there. I saved this for last but probably should have had it first since I was way too full to finish it.

The gal that served us was very nice and I think she thought we were local. She chatted with us about the UH football game earlier that day (which we didn't watch). I noticed that other servers were also very chatty with their customers. Very family friendly. Overall, I don't think I would go to Gyotaku again for sushi but would certainly try out some of their other dishes, like the kamameshi or misoyaki butterfish. In hind sight, I should have ordered the misoyaki butterfish.

Keoki's Paradise in Poipu Bay, Kauai

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt at Poipu Bay on Kauai. I'll write more about the resort in Part 2 but just as a teaser, it's the best Grand Hyatt IMHO that we've stayed at so far, much better than the Grand Hyatt Maui.

One of the first restaurants we had lunch at was Keoki's Paradise. This is part of the T.S. Restaurant chain (also owns Duke's Kimo's, Hula Grill, Leilani's on the Beach on the islands).

The Mister had the Omao Baby Greens salad and a fish taco. I don't recall what the fresh fish of the day was. The Mister said the taco was good but the salad was just okay.

I had the fish and chips, which was really good. The chips were lightly seasoned and very yummy. The batter on the fish was probably the biggest surprise. When the server placed in down, I was a bit tentative because I saw green things in the batter. But it was just herbs (couldn't tell you what kind) and it really made the fish very tasty. The tartar sauce was light and added a good flavor to the fish. It wasn't overly tart or sour. Overall, it was a good simple lunch.

Puka Dog in Poipu Bay, Kauai

Another place that we ate lunch at was Puka Dog. It's it the same mall as Keoki's. I first came across a Puka Dog on the September Oahu trip. I was intrigued by the different relishes and the various mustards. You can check out all of them here. With a shaka confirmation from our zipline guides (more in Part 2 about ziplining), we decided to give it a try.

Sorry the picture is terrible but I was tired, starving, and ready for a nap. Basically, it's a gigantic dog in a blanket. So the Mister and I both had the Polish Sausage. I had mine with mild original sauce, pineapple relish, and lilikoi (passion fruit) mustard. It was so yummy and the perfect to end a morning zipping through the trees. The bun was soft and yummy, although it was almost too much bun for me. The Mister had his with chili pepper, mango relish, and lilikoi mustard. He ate the whole thing. We also got the fresh squeezed lemonade, which was really good. Not too tart and not too sweet, just the way I like it. Although the price of a dog was a little higher than most dog stands, the size of the dog and the extra special types of relish and mustards sure made it worth it! I certainly would go back again.

Wrangler's Steakhouse in Waimea, Kauai

This was the second best meal we had on Kauai. We stopped in for lunch after sightseeing at Waimea Canyon.

Our lunches came with soup and salad bar. The salad had just the basic salad items but the winner here was the mushroom soup. The broth was very hearty, great mushroom and onion flavors. I probably could have eaten this with a good crusty loaf of sour dough bread.

Earlier in the week, I read an article in the local newspaper about the old plantation workers and the kau kau tins they used to carry their lunches. Some say this was the origin of what we know as the plate lunch. One of the specialties of Wrangler's is the kau kau tin so I had to try some tradition. This picture is the kau kau tin lunch special. Three stainless steal tins stacked up neatly, holding yummy food treasures. I couldn't wait to dig in.

The bottom tin contained the steamed rice. Also in that tin was homemade kimchee and a red preserved plum. The preserved plum was very salty. The kimchee was light in flavor and not very hot. But a good addition to the meat dish.

The second tin contained the tempura and tempura sauce. The lightness of the tempura batter was delicious. There were 2 pieces of butterflied shrimp, eggplant, and zucchini. All were very good!

The last compartment contained the teriyaki beef. Sorry the picture is a bit blurry but it tasted really good. Not overly sweet, just the right amount of flavor and went well with the kimchee. I think the cost was around $9-10. It was plenty of food since I didn't finish all of the beef.

There was fish special and a chop steak special that day. The Mister decided on the chop steak special. It had a local style flare to it and the Mister loved it! He said the steak was very tender and the gravy was just delicious. I tried a bit of it and it was very good. Lots of mushrooms and onions, which we both loved. The cost for this meal, including 2 sodas came just slightly over $20.

A little side story to go along with this meal. In the article I read, Wrangler's sell kau kau tins as souvenir items in their little gift shop within the restaurant. I was contemplating on getting one, thinking it would be kind of cool to bring a plate lunch to work. The article said the tins sold for $20 for the set but the price has increased to $30. I decided to get one anyway for nostalgia purposes and I got the last one, the display.

When I was paying for it, the nice gal behind the counter said that she just sold 2 the day before. Someone had called to reserve 2 because a friend of his wanted them. He asked her what they were for and she explained about the lunch. Before we were done, she asked if we were local (it's got to be my board shorts and slippas). I told her that we were from San Diego and it was the first time to Kauai but we've been to other islands. She asked, "We're more laid back, yeah?" I agreed and told her we love the island. It was a great way to end our last day in Kauai.

Other places that we dined at on Kauai (no pictures) were mostly at the resort. We were just too lazy to drive around. Our best meals (we ate there 3 times) were at Stevenson's Library and the Poipu Bay Golf Club Restaurant. Stevenson's Library offer sushi on certain evenings and we always sat at one corner of the koa wood bar. It was one of the best sashimi we've ever had. Their taco sunomono martini was delicious and the unagi roll was awesome. We couldn't get enough of it. The bartenders were great and it certainly was convenient since we didn't have to drive anywhere. We paid the price, of course, but we really enjoyed it.

Another place we ate at the resort was the highly acclaimed Tide Pools. The food was awesome but our server was a boob. He got the Mister's drink order wrong and then tried to play it off like the Mister ordered it wrong. Instead of a Bombay Sapphire straight up, the waiter brought back a dirtied martini (yuck). The waiter made some snide remark as to that's exactly how he likes his drink so I told him he can drink it. No, I wasn't being a brat about it and said it as a matter of factly in response to his remark. And we got the cold snobby attitude for the rest of the service. If the food wasn't so good, I would have spoken to the manager and/or walked out. I certainly expect high class service when they are charging high class prices. I don't think my expectations were unreasonable. Good thing was, this was the only negative experience of our entire trip.

We had complimentary breakfast with our stay at the Grand H, which was good because the breakfast buffet was very expensive. They changed it up everyday, but much to my chagrin because I love to have steamed rice, scrambled eggs, and Portuguese sausage, and they didn't always offer the sausage. It wasn't until our last day that we tried breakfast at the Poipu Bay Golf Club Restaurant. Too bad we didn't realize it earlier in our stay because we loved it. All the servers were so friendly, chatted with us like we were long time friends. The menu was ala carte and they served a local style breakfast called the Kaima'aina. Needless to say, the Mister and I both ordered it. It was a wonderful blend of very good fried rice, egg, and gravy. The fried rice was almost perfect, carrots, peas, green onions, Portuguese sausage, and laap cheong (Chinese sausage). If they would have added some char sui (BBQ pork), it would have been perfect! We both had over-easy eggs, which were fried just right. I think the Mister and I can have this local dish just about any day of the week. My stomach is grumbling now just thinking about it. I was sad to find out that they didn't open for breakfast until 7 am, so we weren't able to go for one last Kaima'aina the morning we flew out.

So these are the food highlights of the trip. Part 2 coming up soon, hopefully by this weekend.

Have a great week. Now go and eat well.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Tostino's and Jenos Frozen Pizza Recall

Doesn't it seem like there's a new story about some drunken celebrity getting arrested for DUI or some new food or toy recall every week or so? Today's new food recall was issued by General Mills. You can read General Mill's press release here. The press release also lists the specific SKU numbers affected by the recall and procedures on how to get replacement products. Almost 5 million of Tostino's and Jeno's frozen pizzas with pepperoni toppings are being recalled due to a possibility of E. coli contamination.

Thank goodness I don't have any in my freezer. Actually, when I do buy Tostino's they don't last more than a few days in the freezer. Yes, I admit that I love Tostino's 3 meat pizzas. It's one of those sin foods that I indulge on every now and then. I have a lot of sin foods. But then I'm a food junkie, so what can I say?

We actually got to go home a little early yesterday from work due to a power outage in a small section of Sorrento Valley. I heard it was a power line that was down. So after standing in the parking lot (something about safety reasons yada yada) for about 90 minutes, our CEO decided to let people go home. Too bad it wasn't today but hey, I'm not complaining cuz it's Aloha Friday, no work 'til Monday!

Have a terrific weekend, now go and eat well, and eat safe.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy All Hallow's Day (All Saints' Day)

I was in such a rush yesterday that I forgot to give credit for the pumpkin patterns. I'm an avid pumpkin carver and over the years, I've collected a decent size patterns and carving tools. I personally like the patterns from Zombie Pumpkins and have carved several in the past. I have lots of patterns from Pumpkin Masters and have even digitized my own patterns in the past. What I really like about Zombie Pumpkins' patterns is that they are detailed but not exceptionally hard to carve. There are many simple ones, like Oogie Boogie.

So here's a quick plug for Zombie Pumpkins (although a day late and dollar short, sorry). But it doesn't mean you can't start planning for next year! Also check out the store. The Patch Master added a few new things this year, like the Pumpkin Gutter Drill Attachment (very cool). That will be on my shopping list for next year along with the Pro Pumpkin Carving Tool Set.

Hope everyone had a great Halloween! Oh yeah, I finally pulled out the camera last night and have downloaded all the Kauai trip pictures. I will put aside some time this weekend to get that all posted. Did I mention that we loved Kauai? More than any other islands? Really. So more to come!

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. Christmas is a very close second. I mean what other holiday can kids dress up and get candy for free?

Each year, the Mister and I would pick a horror movie to watch on Halloween night, after I've carved all my pumpkins. One year, I carved 4 large pumpkins and boy, were my fingers sore afterwards. This year, I'm only doing 1 but the Mister has agreed to carve one too. In all our years together, this will be the first pumpkin he'll be carving. There's a first for everything. Tonight, we're watching The Serpent and the Rainbow. Some of our past favorites are: The Exorcist, The Fog (original), and Halloween.

So to celebrate this wonderful holiday, here are some Halloween trivia from Wikipedia:

  • The term halloween is derived from All-hallow-even (which is the eve of All Hallows' Day).
  • Modern day halloween's origins is linked to the ancient Gaelic festival known as Samhain.
  • Halloween did not become a holiday in the United States until the 19th century.
  • The commercialization of Halloween in the United States did not start until the 20th century, beginning perhaps with Halloween postcards which were most popular between 1905 and 1915.
  • Mass-produced Halloween costumes did not appear in stores until the 1930s, and trick-or-treating did not become a fixture of the holiday until the 1950s.
  • In the United States, Halloween has become the sixth most profitable holiday.
  • Celebration of Halloween in Mexico during the last 40 years have been influenced by the American traditions.

Stay safe, be scary, and have a great Halloween!

Postscript: Here's a picture of the pumpkins we carved tonight. The Mister carved the scary ghost on the left (Oogie Boogie) and I carved the one on the right (self explanatory).

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Still Don't Feel Like Blogging

Actually, it's because I had to get a root canal and I'm just kind of blah. It was really just one root canal that had to be cleaned because it was a missed canal from a molar that had one a quite a few years ago. Odd how that one lone root survived so long. Then when it went abscessed, it went with a bang. Had to go on antibiotics to get rid of the infection, sheesh! So that's the latest drama in my life, hehe. It was just more of an annoyance than anything else. Having to chew only on one side of the mouth was the worst. If you haven't had to do that before, try it for awhile and you'll know what I mean.

So, vacation stories will have to wait until I'm in the mood. Also, I've got 3 quilt projects that I'm trying to complete. One of them is a baby blanket for an ex-boss' new baby girl. That's priority. Another one, which I haven't even started planning, is for an expected baby girl of a friend. But that one isn't due for a few more months. Yup, exciting isn't it (oozing sarcasm here, folks).

Oh yeah, the Mister and I tried a new sushi place in Poway for lunch on Sunday. It was new to us, although we don't know how long it's been in Poway. It's called Poway Sushi Lounge. Two of the owners used to work at Sushi on the Rock so we figured we'd give it a shot. You can review the menu on their website. It was pretty good. We got the sashimi combo and it was good. Let's see if I can remember everything on it: maguro, hamachi, salmon, I think mackerel, and seared hamachi, which was interesting.

We also tried the ichiballs, which were good, too. I ordered the Centipede roll and it was just so-so. The spicy tuna in it had a kick but other than that, it was missing something. We also ordered the tako sunomono and it was very good. There was 3 kinds of seaweed and the tako was okay, slightly on the chewy side. But good flavor overall.

I noticed that they have happy hour Monday-Friday and offered a range of sake martinis. I had one in Kauai and wasn't a fan. But happy hour might be something fun to try. Overall, we'd go back and we won't have to drive too far. Oh yeah, service was great and the people were very friendly. Lunch with sodas totaled ~$50 without tip. About average for us.

I told the Mister that I want to go to Sammy Sushi this weekend. It's been on my list for awhile now. And now that the Mister has his taste back for sushi, I've got to exploit it while I can!

Have a great week, everyone. Now go and eat well.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Getting Back to Normal

Who would have thunk that on our first full day back from Kauai, we'd be coming home to San Diego's Fire Storms 2007? At least I think that's what the media dubbed the fires. It seems so long ago that we were there, oddily enough. We did some errands this morning and looks like many are getting their lives back to normal. I'm lucky to report that we suffered no damage from the fire, or any of my extended families. Just a lot of cleaning up to do.

I've heard a few sad stories from friends and acquaintences and my heart and thoughts go out to them.

As for getting back to normal, I still don't have the camera unpacked from the trip so those pictures will have to wait along with the write-ups. I do want to say that the Mister and I loved Kauai and have already agreed that we're going to go back next year as our big vacation. I'll have more later on the trip. I'm kind of in a lull right now and don't have a lot of enthusiasm to blog. But hopefully once I'm back to my normal routine, I'll get back to it. Until then, stay safe, have fun and eat well.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego County State of Emergency

Emergency officials are reminding residents to limit cell phone calls and use major highways for emergencies only.

Call 2-1-1 San Diego for 24-hour community, health and disaster information.

Updated information from SDG&E:

Here are some links for Emergency Information regarding areas affected by the various wildfires in San Diego County.


San Diego County Emergency Homepage:

Fox Channel 6 Evacuation information:

Road Closures on Channel 8 website:

Please stay away from all fire areas, use common sense and stay safe.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Howzit from Pearl Harbor!

Howzit everyone? I'm literally in Pearl Harbor since we're staying at the Navy Lodge on Ford Island. Just a stone skip away from the Arizona Memorial. Just wanted to pop in to say hello. Weather has been great. We had just a little sprinkle of rain this morning for about 10 minutes. I popped over to Mark's Drive Inn for some lunch while the Mister is working today. Also did a little shopping although I didn't go over to the Aloha Stadium flea market. I should have cuz I'm going through some serious crack seed withdrawals. My favorite crack seed is Rock Salt Plum. I like all the various li hing mui seeds. Tourist plums can be really good but depends on the brand. Maybe I'll have to place an order with the Crack Seed Center when I get back home. If you're ever at Ala Moana, visit the Crack Seed Center to see all the various preserves in big glass jars. They also has lots of dried goods, which the Mister calls stinky fish. Yummy stinky cuttlefish!!

I've spent most of this afternoon planning our site seeing list agenda on Kauai. We'll be on Kauai about 1:30 pm tomorrow. So more later. Aloha and hope you're having a wonderful weekend.

Postscript: I actually listened to the last 2 Sabres games and what a difference a few days make. I think Lindy Ruff was reading my mind, hehe. They look more like last year's President's Award winners and can't wait to watch Saturday's game on TiVo.

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